Public arts funding helps South Bay charter school put on original, student-play

An initiative approved by California voters to support public arts in schools is helping a South Bay school put on a special play. 

Students at Blanca Alvarado School in San Jose are debuting their original, one-act play, called "The Circus of Magic and Mysteries."

"You won't see it anywhere else. It's one of a kind," said Jessica Archunda, a seventh-grade student.

Students between fifth and eighth grades in the drama club spent an entire year writing, designing, producing, and acting in this play.

A student first came up with the idea to featuring a circus, and soon, the story blossomed into different characters, music, and colorful costumes.

"It does help kids get creative," said Luis Enriquez, a seventh-grade student. "It also helps them with their bravery, acting in front of a large crowd."

It's a sentiment echoed by fellow seventh-grade student, Kaley Garcia. 

She is interested in acting, "but I never really had a chance to do so because I was just scared to ask."

Blanca Alvarado is a charter school that opened in 2012 in the Alum Rock neighborhood.

It is named after a longtime community leader and youth advocate in Santa Clara County.

Drama club instructor, Kelsey Wilk said this play gives students a sense of accomplishment that standard lessons in other classes may have a difficult time duplicating.

"We get to take all of our amazing ideas and there's no such thing as no," said Wilk. "We can make anything work, which is the magic of drama, the ability to say yes, and so we take each other's ideas and we just build off of them."

Students also helped with fundraising, while some of the expenses were paid by Proposition 28.

It is an arts and music in schools initiative voters passed in November 2022.

This measure requires the state to establish a new, ongoing program supporting arts instruction beginning in the 2023-24 school year.

The show will run Thursday and Friday at Blanca Alvarado school on Cunningham Avenue in San Jose. Doors open at 5 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.